Jack Canfield was featured prominently in Rhonda Byrnes’ film, The Secret, in which she discusses the Law of Attraction and urges people to think positively about what they want in order to manifest it in their lives. “What you think about, you bring about,” is repeated often throughout the film. While many critics have said that The Secret is unrealistic and all about “sitting on the couch wishing for what you want,” those people are missing the point. While Byrne does stress heavily the importance of maintaining the proper mindset of belief in achieving one’s goals, she never says that action is not also necessary.
Canfield states it more clearly, stating that visualizing one’s goals as already achieved helps the mind remember those goals and notice opportunities to achieve them, as well as keeping the subconscious busy thinking up new strategies for taking action. He also points out that many of the most successful people, from millionaires to athletes, use visualization and positive affirmations to help them achieve their goals.
Personally, I wonder why, if this is so effective, we don’t teach this to kids in school or even at home? Not only do we not teach them these techniques, we actively teach children to discount their imagination, to sit down and listen during class and to memorize and regurgitate facts on standardized tests. Then when they graduate, and are given the little piece of paper that says they sat still and regurgitated facts really well, we tell them that to succeed in life they need to “think outside the box” and “be themselves.” This is a cruel thing to say to someone who has just spent twelve years learning not to pay attention to what they want, but learning instead to fit in with a group and do as they’re told. It’s unfair to tell someone to think outside the box after that much time learning to toe the line.
We need to teach our children the skills they need to get along with others and to function in groups, and they do need to learn some facts that will involve memorization. But they also need to keep their creativity and imagination, and to learn more about themselves and what makes their heart sing more than anything else in the world. Then they need to learn the skills to pursue their dreams and to make them reality.
If I were in charge of any school, I would require that all students read The Success Principles and do the exercises in the book. It begins by helping individuals determine what they want, then offers strategies for achieving any goal. I could see this as a semester-long or even a year-long course in which the principles are explained and discussed in class, then followed as assignments and discussed again to encourage each other, celebrate successes, and help each other brainstorm ways of overcoming roadblocks. It’s not enough for us to teach our children a whole way of thinking and a complete set of skills that are inadequate to getting them through life, then simply tell them to be different. We need to start from day one and teach them how to use the abilities they’re born with including the ability to think critically, and to act on their own desires. Tempered with empathy and compassion, these qualities will lead everyone to realize their highest potential as a contributing member of society and as a happy and secure individual.